Latin: /'vɒks pɒpjʉliː/ VOICE OF THE PEOPLE

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Elegantly Disheveled - Adventure to Cuba" by Jess Kempton-Jones

A recent trip in the June/July holidays took me all across the Atlantic ocean toward a tropical, humid cluster also known as Central America. More specifically, to Cuba, the communistic 'hub' of the world.

Among the many other things that this trip taught me, I realised I could probably never reside in a place like Durban, because the weather is certainly not one of my favourite climes. Although, besides the daily climate, there were many more lessons of substance learned in this strange and exotic country. Cuba was incredible. A really different traveling experience to any I've had before it.

Getting there, for one, is a mission in itself. Almost two full days were dedicated to non-stop journeying on some mode of transport -whether it was by aeroplane, bus or taxi. We finally arrived in Havana city on a warm, muggy and cloudy Sunday afternoon.

There we stayed for two weeks, discovering the old dilapidated city one roaming street at a time.

I am asked by many to try and compare it to something, or somewhere rather, but I am stumped at the thought. It really is like the pictures you see in travel shops and places like Buena Vista: old women staring blankly at the camera with an oversized cigar hanging nonchalantly out of their wrinkled mouths, or, men in Panama hats trying to sell you the latest newspaper copy, which at closer inspection is dated may 2009.

An overwhelming sense of a bygone era looms in Old Havana city. My eyes had never seen such strange and odd sights. Beautiful vintage cars, Dodges, Fords and dilapidated Volkswagens were among the many luxury and exotic vehicles that we seem to throw thousands of rands at in the hopes of owning, yet for these people it appears a boring, every day norm. Sad and dampened-hope faces peered out from the dark shadows of doorways, once properties of lucrative businesses and hotels. Now the once grand architecture of a bustling city is crumbling at the skirtings.

From huge graffiti portraits the great, iconic Cuban hero, Che Guevara, leers watchingly over the people of Havana; one cannot but recognise the prolific attempts at propoganda. The more I think of it the less I am prone to believe that the people of Cuba are happy and content with their curent government. Whenever faced with the burning question,"...and the government? Good? Happy?", a man we met and asked shuffles slightly in his seat, shifts his gaze and nods.

Just nods.
Which gives the impression of some sort of advanced oppression - an oppression that has gotten to the point where there is no great hope for change because every day is the same.

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